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ITV and Silverprint Pictures have released first look images of Brenda Blethyn and David Leon as filming begins for the highly-anticipated thirteenth series of Vera, set in the heart of the North East.


Starring the internationally acclaimed and award-winning actress Brenda Blethyn as DCI Vera Stanhope, the new series sees the return of actor and director David Leon as Joe Ashworth.

Joining Brenda and David for the three new feature-length episodes are Jon Morrison as DC Kenny Lockhart, Riley Jones as DC Mark Edwards, Sarah Kameela Impey as Pathologist Dr. Paula Bennett and Rhiannon Clements (Ridley, Hollyoaks) as new and ambitious DC Steph Duncan, who joins Vera's team.


In the opening episode, titled Fast Love, DCI Vera Stanhope (Brenda Blethyn) is called to a quiet country lane where a young man has been found dead following a collision with a car. Vera discovers that the victim is a popular market trader so heads down to his pitch to start to put together an idea of who the man is.


As the investigation gathers pace, Vera learns that this cheeky chappy was a complex character. Antagonistic, arrogant and able to get what he wanted but did all of this come at a price? Adding to the complexity of the case, Vera is taken aback by Joe Ashworth's (David Leon) return and is unsure of his motives.


Brenda Blethyn commented: "Stepping back into Vera's shoes for the thirteenth series feels like coming home again. The support from the locals in the North East is truly heart-warming and reuniting with the talented David Leon and the rest of our exceptional team is an absolute delight. Together, we embark on this new chapter with a terrific script crafted by the brilliant Paul Matthew Thompson."


David Leon commented: "I’m thrilled to be returning to Vera. It's fantastic to be back in the North East and reunited with Brenda and the crew for the new series. I’m looking forward to exploring the relationship between Joe and Vera as they make up for lost time.”


Executive Producer Will Nicholson commented: “Being from the North East it is always a joy to film Vera here and we are very grateful for the warmth and support from the fans during production. Starting the new series is incredibly exciting and alongside the incomparable Brenda Blethyn and the rest of our talented cast, we are delighted to welcome David Leon back to the show."


Other actors appearing in the first episode include Nimmy March (Agatha Raisin, Midsomer Murders), Amit Shah (Happy Valley, The Other One), Stephen Lord (Coronation Street, Safe House), Patrick McNamee (Our Girl, Inspector George Gently), Andrew Dunn (The Syndicate, Doctors), Bryan Dick (Ridley, The Split), Samantha Seager (Coronation Street, This is Vanity), Beruce Khan (War of the Worlds, The Capture) and television newcomers Travis Ross, Evie Hargreaves and Susan Jayne-Robinson.


The first feature length episode is written by series regular Paul Matthew Thompson (Ridley, Shakespeare & Hathaway: Private Investigators) and directed by Claire Winyard (Our Girl, Call the Midwife).


The three self-contained crime stories in the new series draw inspiration from the best-selling novels and characters created by acclaimed crime writer Ann Cleeves.


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